Talia Randall, Epping Forest Commission
We are pleased to announce that Talia Randall has been appointed as commissioned artist for Epping Forest, in partnership with Epping Forest Heritage Trust and supported by the City of London Corporation.
Talia Randall is an award-winning podcaster, performer, writer, and community worker. Her work deals with themes of power, belonging and revealing the hidden. She is driven by an unwavering conviction that everyone should have equitable access to the arts and to nature.
She was recently commissioned by BBC Sounds Audio Lab to make Blossom Trees and Burnt-Out Cars, a podcast series that celebrates the nature pioneers from underrepresented communities who are smashing the barriers that keep so many of us locked out of green space.
For Epping Forest, Talia will create a new podcast series that will champion the diversity of those who visit and use Epping Forest, with a view to encouraging more people from different backgrounds to enjoy what Epping Forest has to offer.
Broad themes and issues relating to Epping Forest will be explored and woven throughout the series, with each of the podcast episodes made in collaboration with community groups and individuals who frequent the forest, as well as those who face visible and invisible barriers to accessing nature.
Talia’s starting points for the project include (but are not limited to) talking to women of colour who feel empowered by the forest; meeting disabled ramblers; uncovering the history of witches connected to the site; and looking at how children and young people relate to the forest.
The engagement process will become the artwork itself, as Talia gets to know these groups and individuals, running creative workshops, and recording their conversations and interactions with nature set among a rich soundscape that will reflect the diversity of the spaces within the forest. The project will culminate in a listening launch party to bring all participants together, and episodes will be available to hear online.
Potential listeners for the final podcast will be those who feel that nature isn’t for them and who feel excluded; regular visitors who may not have considered the hidden histories of the forest and how people interact with the space in different ways; and national nature lovers who want to find out more about Epping Forest.
Having grown up on a council estate, Talia remembers one particularly prominent barrier to nature – a locked gate to a small nature reserve at the edge of the estate. This sent a clear signal to Talia and her neighbours that people from estates weren’t to be trusted with greenspace; it must be locked us and ‘protected’. Talia now lives close to Epping Forest, where she is free to enjoy and connect with the nature on her doorstep. For Talia, her relationship to nature is very much connected to class and her changing class status. Nature, it seems, is not a neutral subject.
Talia is passionate about helping others explore this vital green space, as well as discussing how issues regarding ableism, sexism and racism intersect and can sometimes prevent us engaging with the nature around us. Through this project, she wants to talk openly about these barriers and issues as well as celebrating diversity and finding creative solutions.
“Our relationship to nature can reveal so much about who we are, our position in the world, how we viewed by others and how we see ourselves. I can’t wait to explore this idea with nature lovers who are making others feel a sense of belonging in Epping Forest. I look forward to sharing these conversations on the podcast and hearing what listeners have to say too”. Talia Randall
“Epping Forest has a rich history of the interaction between people and nature, where biodiversity, cultural and heritage interweave. We look forward to supporting Talia as she explores the stories of those who face, and have faced, obstacles to engaging with this fantastic ancient Forest, so we can learn how to create a more inclusive and welcoming place, enjoyed by everyone.” Amy Liu, Epping Forest Heritage Trust
About the Artist
Talia Randall is a neurodivergent poet, performer and podcaster. Her BBC commissioned podcast Blossom Trees and Burnt-Out Cars asked the question why isn’t nature for everyone? The podcast was recommended by the Guardian, selected in Pod Bible’s ‘Best Podcasts of 2022’, was awarded silver at the British Podcast Awards 2023 and Gold at the Audio Production Awards 2023 . Talia was an inaugural member of BBC Sounds Audio Lab, a podcast development programme designed to amplify the next-generation of podcasters.
Talia has performed comedy, poetry and theatre across the UK including at Southbank, Bristol Old Vic, Roundhouse, Glastonbury, Wales Millennium Centre and at Larmer Tree festival. Talia is also the creator of What Words Are Ours? A poetry knees-up that features Deaf and hearing artists on the same stage. Talia’s work has been called “refreshing and brilliant” (The Guardian), “absolutely sublime” (dig.com) and “distinctive” (The Upcoming).
Talia’s debut poetry pamphlet Proverbs for a Woman Drinking Alone was published by Broken Sleep Books in February 2023 and her debut collection Eighty-Two was published in November 2023, also with Broken Sleep. Her poetry has also been published in The Guardian Children’s Book of the Year anthology Poems from a Green and Blue Planet by Sabrina Mahfouz (Hachette Children’s Group) and Everything is Going to be All Right curated by Cecilia Knapp (Trapeze).
Since 2007 Talia has worked with children and teenagers to develop their voices through drama, poetry and healthy relationship projects. These community and education projects are integral to Talia’s artistic work.